“Rodney?” said Dave, when he opened the door at eleven o’clock on a Thursday night, to find the scientist standing on his front step. “What’s wrong? What happened?”
Rodney blinked at him. “What? No, nothing’s wrong. Sheppard— John— is fine, everyone’s fine. And nothing is happening, that’s the problem, and I just—”
“Maybe we could talk about this inside?” Dave interrupted, gently.
“What?” Rodney said again. “Oh, I— Is this a bad time?”
Dave shook his head, smiling. “Come in, Rodney. It’s late, but you’re always welcome. What’s on your mind?”
“I need a biased opinion.”
“Biased?” Dave repeated, stepping back to let him in.
“So I can be absolutely sure this is the right thing to do. I mean, I want it to be. And I’m reasonably certain that Sheppard— John— will agree. Teyla told me to look into my heart, which just sounds like she’s trying to get me to meditate again, and Ronon didn’t actually say anything at all! I considered going to see my sister, but I just know she’ll tell me to go for it and remind me that I can’t do any better, which I know, but still…”
Rodney trailed off, looking expectantly at Dave, and Dave frowned. “I’m sorry, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“I thought you Sheppards were smart,” Rodney muttered, then said, “I need someone biased on John’s side, because I want to ask him… to marry me.”
Oh,” Dave said, softly.
Somewhere in the back of his mind, he’d known something like this was coming, especially since the news that certain laws and regulations were being repealed. But as much as he liked Rodney, Dave had to admit that he still hadn’t gotten used to the idea of his brother dating another man. He knew that things were changing, could see the way history would judge the people at this point in time, but some old prejudices were hard to let go.
He hated that his first thought was for the family reputation, rather than John’s future, then wondered if that was maybe why he hadn’t talked to his brother for so many years.
There probably would be some kind of repercussions to Sheppard Industries from their more conservative shareholders and business associates, who might have been willing to misinterpret John’s returning home with ‘a friend’, but could not ignore his having a husband.
But Dave remembered John’s marriage to Nancy, and he realized that even during their honeymoon phase, John had never seemed as relaxed, as genuinely happy as he was when he was with Rodney.
And that was the important part, wasn’t it? This wasn’t about Dave, or their family, or Sheppard Industries. This was about John and Rodney and their future together.
Dave realized that Rodney was still waiting for him to say something, and he smiled. “I think you should ask him,” he said. “Soon.”
The scientist blinked at him. “What? You’re supposed to argue with me! At the very least, you’re supposed to threaten me, or something!”
“Would you like me to threaten you?” Dave asked, trying not to laugh.
“No, of course not,” said Rodney. “I just thought— I mean, no offence, but…”
“Yeah, I know,” said Dave. “Our family was pretty conservative, growing up, and I’ll admit that I’m still adjusting to my brother dating another guy. But I also know that I haven’t seen John this happy since… we were kids. Since before Mom died.”
“Oh,” said Rodney.
Dave smiled. “Yeah. Aren’t you happier, with John?”
“To an unquantifiable degree,” said Rodney. “But I… for once, I don’t want to be selfish about something. If this isn’t absolutely the best thing for John, you know, marrying me, then I won’t ask him, no matter how much I want it myself.”
“And that is exactly why you should,” said Dave.
“Oh,” Rodney said, again. “And you won’t mention this conversation to your brother?”
“Not until after the wedding,” Dave promised, then he yawned. “Sorry, it’s late. Did you want to stay here tonight, Rodney, or do you need to get back?”
“We’re still on Atlantis time,” the other man dismissed. “And I have work to do. But, um, thanks.”
“You’re welcome,” said Dave, smiling. “And congratulations.”
Rodney’s smile was bright, as he took a headset radio from his pocket. “Hammond, this is McKay. I’m ready to go back.”
Dave shook his head, watching his soon-to-be brother-in-law vanish in a swirl of light.
Apparently, you could get used to anything.